Now "cancer stable," the PEOPLE.com blogger shares her advice for silencing the dark voice of doubt
After successfully battling ovarian cancer for the second time and sharing her journey on PEOPLE.com, Diem Brown is back to blogging. This time around, she will not only share updates on her own life, but about competing on her new show, MTV’s The Challenge: Rivals II.
What holds us back? I think if we dig deep and expose the core reasons why we don’t jump in, leap, go for it, etc., we’ll discover they’re centered around the limiting emotion of fear.
Fear binds us and inhibits us from achieving our full potential. Finding a way to break away from those fears is how we can set ourselves free. Overcoming fear may be uncomfortable, but it’s conquerable.
Cancer or any life-threatening illness is a funny thing: after you’ve seemingly won your battle, you’re left with a dark thought in the back of your mind that the illness can come back. Now this persistent li’l fear monster is a parasite and the more you let him take space in your mind the more he will control your life.
After my first bout with ovarian cancer, I never thought of the possibility of it recurring.
However, my second ovarian cancer bout didn’t end with the same comforting words of “I’m glad to tell you, you’re cancer free.” Instead, I got the “I’m glad to tell you, your cancer is stable.” My fear monster kept nagging in my mind … “well, if it came back once, it can come back again!” Yep, I hate that annoying li’l dude in my head!
The phrase “your cancer is stable” made me imagine all these cancer cells just kicking it in my body somewhere. That phrase doesn’t sound finite, but rather it sounded like that word “stable” could change at any point and the cancer cells could stop chilling out in my body and start raging throughout it again.
Going into the The Challenge: Rivals II, I wanted to push that “stable” word out of my frightened mind. I tried to erase any fear I had by physically hiding my fear under wigs, hats and scarfs. (See the Rivals clip below) Sounds insane I know, but if I didn’t see myself with the physical evidence that my cancer had returned I could make my mind believe it hadn’t. Yes, denial has always been my go-to coping mechanism.
Now, these MTV challenges are not meant to be therapy sessions by any means, but ironically they have been that for me. Both the first time and second time I came back after cancer, the challenges made me push past mental walls and retake the power to live my life to the fullest. Rivals II helped me to stop hiding and denying my issues.
At a certain point you have to take back control of your life from whatever is laying heavy on your heart. Trust me, it’s hard. The first time you push yourself past that uncomfortable place it’s unnerving, but the results are more than worth it.
I was so lucky to have the sweetest girls in the world by my side as I made myself look fear in the mirror. Paula, Emily, Camila and Aneesa saw my mental struggles day in and day out, yet they understood I had to overcome my fear on my own and in my own way.
The first time I tore off my wig in that mud pit on the Duel, it was out of necessity for the challenge. This time I wanted to be more in control and so I did it before going out dancing.
The first part of the night was hard, I felt naked and felt that all my vulnerability was exposed. I had to look in the mirror and admit to myself, “okay, cancer came back and now it’s stable somewhere in your body so get over it and start living fully again you doofus! It’s time to go out dancing and shake your head around and feel free to not live in fear of death!
So whatever may be holding you back – a health condition, judgement, your past, the fear of your future, whatever that fear may be – don’t feed that parasitic fear monster. It’s time to take back of your life and live happily, confidently and as loudly as you possibly can because today you are here and today you are free to live!
Relive Diem’s Emotional Journey on PEOPLE.com: